Alimony or spousal support is a monthly payment made by one spouse to another in accordance with either a settlement agreement or a court decision. The purpose of alimony is to correct any unfair economic effects caused by a divorce, such as when a stay-at-home parent suddenly needs a source of income after the divorce but has never held a job. This Alimony section covers the basics of spousal support, the various types of support, including temporary and lump-sum alimony, how to determine eligibility, calculating payment amounts, important records to save when paying or receiving alimony and much more. There are also links to resources such as FindLaw’s Guide to Spousal Support.
What Is Alimony?
Alimony or spousal support is the payment from one spouse to another after divorce to improve one party's financial situation, considering their circumstances both before and after the divorce. The court can decide a certain amount of support is necessary or a couple can agree to an appropriate amount of spousal support on their own.
Many factors go into determining the spousal support amount, such as the age and physical condition of each former spouse, the length of time needed for training or education to become self-sufficient, and the standard of living during the marriage. However, the guidelines and factors vary by state. The alimony basics article in this section outlines what you need to know.
Can I Get Alimony?
Most states have certain requirements you must meet to be eligible for alimony or spousal support. For example, you may have to have been married for over a certain number of years, such as 10 years. You may also need to have limited education and work experience, such that an immediate return to the workforce that would allow a former spouse to attain a comparable lifestyle as while married is unlikely. Also, alimony is gender-neutral. It’s not only for women or paid by men, any spouse who was bringing in more money than the other spouse may be required to pay temporary or permanent spousal support.
If you’re curious about your spousal support eligibility, check out the questionnaire “Are You Entitled to Spousal Support?”
Alternatives to Monthly Spousal Support Payments
Good news for payers of alimony or spousal support: you may avoid the bad memories that monthly payments may bring you each month by paying your support all in one lump sum. This section has an article that describes options for lump sum alimony payments and the potential tax consequences.
Spousal Support Forms and Resources
This section has links to great resources like spousal support forms and information for each state. In addition, there are articles about taxes and records to keep that are important considerations for both former spouses. Why are taxes and records important for alimony? One major reason is that alimony is usually tax deductible for the payer, but is counted as income to the receiver.
Getting Legal Help
If you’re divorcing, you may want to speak to a divorce lawyer about the likelihood that you'll be awarded alimony in your state. If you’ve already been granted an award for alimony, but are having difficulty getting your ex to pay, you may need a family law or creditor-debtor attorney to help you get that money.